One of the things that holds us together as Christians is the story. And every Sunday (at least) we get together and recall the story that informs us who we are and what we are to do. But as Catholics, we don't just simply remember the story but we get inside of it. We live it. We carry it outside the walls of our church buildings and make it a part of our lives.
Right now we are in Advent, that part of the story in which we are anticipating the coming of Christ and so we spend some time preparing, not only our souls and minds, but our homes, and yards, and every aspect of our lives for His coming.
Those who give religious advice, people such as myself, will say that this is a most excellent time to focus on prayer, making a holy hour, reading Scriptures, fasting, prayer, meditation, volunteering, to stop focusing on Christmas and really take advantage of Advent. And we will hear back (from some) there isn't time! This is the most hectic time of year! Stop and pray? Are kidding me? Then things will just not get done!
So here are some ideas to help you take advantage of Advent that will not interfere too much with even the busiest of schedules. (And if you are too busy to pray at all, you are too busy.)
Firstly, decide not to get ready for Christmas Day. Get ready for the Christmas season. Don't get so burned out on Christmas prep that by the time the day after Christmas arrives you are ready to throw the tree out on the devil strip and be done with it. Aim toward being ready to meet the Christ, not just get the perfect party or day. This is just a mind set, so far - no time or activity.
Next, you are probably going to be sending out a number of Advent cards (or at least Christmas cards in Advent) or their electronic equivalent. Before you drop them in the mailbox (or hit the send button), say an Advent/Christmas prayer for those who will be receiving them that they be touched by Christ at Christmas. (You can do the reverse too saying prayers over the cards for all the people who thought enough of you to send you a card.)
Practice joyful patience. Before you go out, KNOW that you will be stuck in line. Be determined not to be mad about it (there's nothing you can do it about it anyway.) You can either be stuck and mad or be stuck and be determined to offer up this moment of suffering for someone who needs it.
Pass up the perfect parking place at the store. Let someone else have it. Park further away and walk. The exercise is better for you, you've done a good deed, and it will only add 30 more seconds to your day.
Be determined to be kind to the harried sale's clerk. If you choose to do this (which may actually cut down on your time in line) God will send you the most grouchy, lazy, incompetent clerk He can find. It will be a game if wills between you and God. So have fun with it. And don't pick a posh store where they are paid to be nice to you, pick a clerk at the type of store where they barely pay them and don't really care how they treat customers as long as they show up.
Every time you drive by a church, say a prayer telling God you are getting ready for Him and invite Him to your place at Christmas. (St. Hilary is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from a great shopping district so you can always pray as you go by.)
Finally, you will trapped in traffic, put on hold, or end up waiting for someone who is late. Use that time to pray. Pray for the person on the other end of the line that put you on hold. It will freak them out. When the operator gets back on line and says, "Sorry for the wait," you can say, "That's Okay, I used the time to pray for you." See how that throws 'em!
Be creative, come up with your own Advent sanctifying activities. The above maybe added a couple of minutes to the entirety of Advent, cost no money, improves your blood pressure, and helped focuses you on God. Why not give it a shot?